Clive Edwards (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Clive Edwards (Tonga))
Jump to: navigation, search

William Clive Edwards OBE (born 11 January 1934)[1] is a Tongan Cabinet Minister and former Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga. He is a member of the People's Democratic Party and currently serves as Minister for Justice and Minister for Public Enterprise.

Life and Education[edit]

Edwards was born in Kolofo'ou, Nuku'alofa, Tonga. He was educated and was first dux at Tonga High School[1] where he was the first local student to pass NZ School Certificate from Tonga. He was a student of Auckland Grammar School in New Zealand in 1953 where he gained NZ University Entrance. He studied law at the University of Auckland[2] and practiced in both New Zealand and Tonga before returning to Tonga permanently in 1994.[1]

Legal career[edit]

As a lawyer, Edwards was heavily involved with protecting the Pacific Islander community in New Zealand when New Zealand society was strongly anti-immigration. During the 1970s and 1980s there were a series of infamous dawn raids when Police and Immigration officials would raid houses of the Pacific Island community almost at random and arrest men women and children for deportation. His office, then in Mt Eden, Auckland, was the largest sole practitioners legal office in New Zealand and he was famous for never turning away a client who actually could not pay. He was a founding member of the United Church of Tonga in New Zealand and was a substantial fund raiser. He has been the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the church since its inception.

He was personally responsible for legal battles with Immigration in New Zealand that changed the face of the immigration law in New Zealand and subsequently became a model for modern international immigration law. His spirited and tenacious defences of thousands of immigrants in New Zealand resulted in thousands of Island people lawfully gaining residence and ultimately citizenship in New Zealand. His work undoubtedly enriched New Zealand society and second and third generation Pacific Island families now play prominent roles in New Zealand's cultural, business, professional and sporting life.

In Tonga and New Zealand, Edwards was well known in the Appeal Courts and at trial as a lawyer he gained acquittals for many people who would otherwise have wrongly gone, without his help, to prison. In New Zealand alone, he has conducted 24 murder cases with only 1 conviction and all manslaughter cases he trialled were acquitted

The case of R. vs. Kamipeli [1975] 2 NZLR 610 (CA), Edwards made legal history because it established clear guidelines in the law of evidence, crimes, procedures and direction to the jury when using intoxication as a defence in murder cases. It was a crossroad case where New Zealand departed from English Common Law principles which had settled this issue for 150 years where intoxication cannot be pleaded as a defence.

On his return to Tonga after a long and distinguished career in New Zealand, Edwards became involved in most of the major legal cases in Tonga,[2] in relation to Land, Citizenship and Criminal. In the aftermath of the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots, Edwards was responsible for the dismissal of charges for over 500 clients.

In 1976, he represented Dennis Priven who was on trial for the murder of Deborah Gardner, and secured his acquittal on grounds of insanity.[1]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

Edwards was an elected councillor of the Ellerslie Borough (1967–1976) and City of Auckland (1976–1987) with the Citizens and Ratepayers Party. He was a successful local body politician and was returned by Aucklanders to the City Council year after year. He served as Auckland City Traffic Commissioner for many years in charge of traffic law enforcement. He was Chairman of the 14 Combined Auckland Community Committees for 9 years, and also Chaired the Multi-Racial Sub-committee, at a time when law enforcement in New Zealand was unashamedly prejudicial against the Maori and Pacific Island communities.

Edwards was an unsuccessful National Party candidate for Auckland Central in 1969 and 1972 New Zealand Elections. He was a member of a 4 man National Party Executive Council, which consisted of Edwards, Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Jack Marshall and Sir Robert Muldoon.


Cabinet Minister[edit]

In 1996, Edwards was appointed to the Tongan Cabinet (and therefore the Tongan Parliament) by His Majesty, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, and served as Minister of Police, Prisons & Fire Services, and Deputy Prime Minister.[1] As a Cabinet Minister and under his Oath of Allegiance to the King of Tonga, Edwards was an opponent of democracy, banning the Times of Tonga newspaper, ordering surveillance of pro-democracy meetings,[3] and taking civil action suits against 'Akilisi Pohiva and other democracy activists for defamation.[1]

In 1996 Pohiva and two Times of Tonga journalists, Kalafi Moala and Filokalafi 'Akauola, were found guilty by the Tongan Parliament of Contempt of Parliament, in a matter relating to then Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Lord Tevita Tupou published publicly by the Times, causing them to be jailed for 30 days. Edwards was responsible, in his capacity as Minister of Police and Prisons, for their incarceration. The three were later awarded US$26,000 for wrongful imprisonment.[4] He was the Government spokesperson [5] on all matters in relation to protecting His Majesty, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. He was Government spokesperson on the passing of media laws which saw the Times of Tonga banned from the country in 2003 as a seditious publication,[6] but the ban was overturned by the Supreme Court.[7] Later in 2003 he laid a defamation complaint against the Times of Tonga after it published an article questioning his use of police housing.[8]

In 2004 Edwards was sacked from Cabinet by Prime Minister Ulukālala Lavaka Ata after the collapse of Royal Tongan Airlines.[9] Edwards later claimed that he was unfairly sacked for opposing the government's one airline policy and for plotting to overthrow the government,[10] in contrary to his sworn Oath.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Following his sacking Edwards became a critic of the government and became a founding member of the People's Democratic Party.[11] He contested the 2005 election, but failed to win a seat. However, he was subsequently elected as a People's Representative for Tongatapu in a by-election following the appointment of Feleti Sevele to Cabinet.[12][13] As a people's representative, Edwards advocated democratic reform,[14] and criticised the practice of appointing MPs to cabinet, arguing that it was a way for the government to silence its critics.[15]

In 2005, he produced a Manifesto which outlined the Constitutional Amendments that were required in the Tonga Law to affect Democratic Change in Tonga. This document would commence the legal debate required, and it provided the road map which assisted Prime Minister Feleti Sevele and his Government to become proactive in the establishment of Royal Commissions and to allow Parliament to enact the necessary changes. Amendments to the Constitution have been encouraged, approved and finally assented by His Majesty, George Tupou V which will enable democratic elections to take place for the first time in Tonga's history on 25 November 2010, whereby the people will elect the majority of 17 members to the new Tongan Parliament of 26.

In 2007 Edwards was charged with two counts of sedition in relation to the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots.[16] This was later reduced to a single charge of uttering seditious words.[17] The trial has been repeatedly delayed,.[18][19] Despite the charges, Edwards was re-elected at the 2008 election. Finally in May 2010, the sedition charges against him were dismissed.[20]

In 2010, Edwards announced that he would be promoting a private members bill to abolish whipping and the death penalty.[21]

Edwards stood for the seat of Tongatapu 3 in the 2010 elections, but was unsuccessful. Following the election, he was appointed to Cabinet as a Minister outside the legislature, holding the portfolios of public enterprise and revenue services.[22] On 1 September 2011, he was appointed Minister for Justice. He retained the portfolio for public enterprises, while the portfolio for revenue services was reshuffled to Sunia Manu Fili.[23]


In 1993, Edwards was awarded the New Zealand Services Medal for services to New Zealand communities.

In 1995, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for his services to the Law and Community and special services to Pacific Islanders.

In 1998, he was awarded by His Majesty, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV the Tonga Service Medal and Order of Distinction.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Clive Edwards". IMDB. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  2. ^ a b "Profile of William Clive Edwards". Parliament of Tonga. Retrieved 2010-03-01. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Tonga pro-democracy MP raises concerns about police surveillance of their meetings". Radio New Zealand International. 3 October 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  4. ^ "Tongan pro-democracy politician and journalists win case against government". Radio New Zealand International. 8 December 2002. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  5. ^ "Tonga newspaper publisher thrilled that Crown Prince is speaking out over failed media law changes". Radio New Zealand International. 26 January 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  6. ^ "Tonga Government bans independent newspaper". Radio New Zealand International. 26 February 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  7. ^ "Taimi O Tonga bans lifted...papers due on sale in Tonga on Wednesday". Radio New Zealand International. 26 May 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  8. ^ "Tonga police minister lays complaint over Taimi O Tonga story". Radio New Zealand International. 11 July 2003. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  9. ^ "Tongan royals order three ministers to quit – report". Radio New Zealand International. 25 August 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  10. ^ "Former Tongan minister claims his sacking linked to alleged coup plot". Radio New Zealand International. 19 January 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  11. ^ "Tonga's new People's Democratic Party elects officials". Matangi Tonga. 18 April 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  12. ^ "Tongatapu by-election 5 May 2005". Matangi Tonga. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  13. ^ "Former Tonga police minister returns to parliament in by-election". Radio New Zealand International. 5 May 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  14. ^ "Newly-elected Tonga MP says democratic reform is a key priority". Radio New Zealand International. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  15. ^ "Former Tongan cabinet minister says appointments to cabinet a way to silence critics". Radio New Zealand International. 28 March 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  16. ^ "Tonga’s former police minister charged with two counts of sedition". Radio New Zealand International. 2 February 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  17. ^ "Crown withdraws six charges against five People’s Representatives in Tonga". Radio New Zealand International. 11 September 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  18. ^ "Sedition trials in Tonga delayed by nine months". Radio New Zealand International. 4 November 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  19. ^ "Trial of five Tongan MPs postponed". Radio New Zealand International. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  20. ^ "Tonga: Power to the People". Sunday Star Times. 14 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  21. ^ "Whipping as a punishment for crimes in Tonga should be wiped". Radio New Zealand International. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  22. ^ "Tonga’s prime minister names his cabinet". Radio New Zealand International. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  23. ^ "Cabinet quietly reshuffles portfolios", Matangi Tonga, 7 September 2011

External links[edit]